AMD's newest CPUs, the Ryzen 3 3100 and Ryzen 3 3300X are known entities, and both are impressive in their own way. The CPUs are only part of the story though, and the new B550 motherboards that support their full feature set are vital for weighing up their overall value proposition. Which is why B550 pricing is so important.
The good news is that Gigabyte and MSI have now announced pricing and the features of their upcoming motherboards: Gigabyte has posted details of its 11 B550 motherboards on reddit, while MSI produced a two hour live stream of its announcement of the same number of motherboards.
The somewhat surprising news is that the pricing for the top end boards is more than you'd expect to pay for the more affordable X570-based offerings. With the X570 chipset being the only PCIe 4.0 option for Ryzen 3000 boards until now, most manufacturers have created affordable versions themselves, which makes high-priced B550 boards a bit of an oddity.
Gigabyte's top offering, the B550 Aorus Master has an MSRP of $279, while the MSI B550 Gaming Carbon Wifi is a cool $219. Given that X570 chipset has more love for PCIe 4.0 than the B550 does, that might seem like a strange decision by both motherboard manufacturers. Even with the motherboard shortages we're experiencing right now you can pick up a low-end X570 for $160. But will you get more performance from a budget X570 than a high-spec B550? Probably not.
|Header Cell - Column 0||B450 Chipset||B550 Chipset||X570 Chipset|
|CPU Graphics Support||x16 PCIe Gen 3||x16 PCIe Gen 4||x16 PCIe Gen 4|
|CPU Storage Support||PCIe Gen 3||PCIe Gen 4||PCIe Gen 4|
|CPU USB Ports||USB 3.1 Gen 1||USB 3.2 Gen2||USB 3.2 Gen2|
|Dual Graphics Support||No||Yes||Yes|
|General Purpose Lanes||PCIe Gen 2||PCIe Gen 3||PCIe Gen 4|
|CPU Chipset Uplink||PCIe Gen 3||PCIe Gen 3||PCIe Gen 4|
There were a few B450 motherboards in the last generation which cost more than their X470 compadres, but in the 400-series high-end B450s were still much less prevalent.
Whatever happens at the high end I'm much more interested in what's going on at the other end of the price spectrum, which in both cases means you're looking at smaller micro-ATX boards. The Gigabyte B550M DS3H can be had for $94, while the MSI B550M Pro-Dash is its cheapest offering at $119.
The smaller form factor isn't much of an issue, as it essentially means you lose out on a few PCIe slots, but it also affords you the option of going with smaller, more affordable cases. There's no real information about either board at this point though, other than the pricing, so it's maybe still worth taking a look slightly further up the stack.
If we move up to full ATX motherboards, then the MSI B550-A Pro is the most affordable option from MSI at $139, while the Gigabyte B550 Aorus Pro rocks in $10 cheaper at $129. There is information on both of these motherboards on the manufacturer's websites, which at least means we can throw a comparison together.
|Header Cell - Column 0||Gigabyte B550 Aorus||MSI B550-A Pro|
|DDR4 memory support||2133-5400 MHz||1866-4800 MHz|
|SATA 3 ports||6||6|
|Audio||Realtek ALC1220-VB||Realtek ALC892|
|LAN||Realtek 8188 2.5GbE LAN||Realtrek RTL8111H Gigabit LAN|
|Video-out||1x HDMI||1x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI|
If you take a look at the table above you'll discover there isn't a lot between the two motherboards. The memory support appears to differ, but I suspect this is just down to how MSI and Gigabyte have elected to show A-XMP support, although memory qualification lists are far more important here anyway.
The only real differences of note is the Ethernet support, with the Gigabyte board supporting 2.5GbE while the MSI is straight gigabit. The MSI offers a DisplayPort connector as well as the HDMI port, while the Gigabyte only has the latter, which is worth considering if you're looking to pop an APU into either board.
Obviously we'll need to see these motherboards in action before we can recommend one over the other, as well as taking on board other options, such as the Asus ROG Strix B550-F Gaming. On that point, you'll find the specifications for plenty of Asus B550 motherboards on this microsite, although there's no word on pricing just yet. Hopefully Asus will be aiming a bit lower than MSI and Gigabyte, but I wouldn't hold your breath.